Revolutions are not easy affairs. For all the exhilaration that so often accompanies them, they often leave behind big messes. This is the situation Egypt faces just over a year after former dictator Hosni Mubarik was forced to step down in February 2011, amidst increasingly violent street protests, followed by the military assuming power under a body called the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Through the months that preceded Mubarik’s removal, Tahrir Square in Cairo had become centre stage for a revolution led mainly by young people, who were willing to give their lives to end autocratic rule.
Today, once more, people have begun to gather at Tahrir Square and tensions run high. The main issue at hand is the question of who won the presidential poll, the results of which were to be announced on June 21. This has not happened. Both candidates, Muhammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and ex-general Ahmed Shafik have claimed victory. The latter is seen as a pro-military candidate who, represents the status quo and had served as Mubarik’s last prime minister. The new Tahrir Square protests demand an end to the delay in clearing the confusion in the results. But the issues go deeper than the protests. A key problem is the growing feeling among Egyptians that the military is in no mood to give up power and is in fact, determined to orchestrate events either from behind the scenes or in a more direct fashion. There is little credibility for those organising the poll and as a result, many of the liberal Egyptians who led the revolution have retreated into the shadows. This has been criticised by the US, as the idea of either the military or radical Islamists being in power is rather unnerving.
Many in the country say it is pointless to vote; given their views in a March 2012 referendum were ignored, a parliament elected shortly afterwards was dissolved and many doubts are wrapped around the presidential contest. The omens are not good for Egypt and it risks falling under authoritarian rule again. This would be a real tragedy, given all the blood spilled not so long ago.
Published in The Express Tribune, 25th, 2012.
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